Letters

ATTENTION DEFICIT

Re Sydney H. Schanberg's cover story ["Lies, Damned Lies, and Campaign Promises," April 30-May 6]:

I'm a fan of Schanberg, but I dispute his contention that during last year's governor's race, "overall the press never did hard analysis" of the state's financial troubles or "explained what they meant for taxpayers." I covered that campaign for Newsday, and on September 29, right in the middle of the general election, we prominently published a 1,357-word story entitled "In Governor Race, Deficit of Solutions."

The story explained in detail how Albany had obscured a growing state budget gap with fiscal gimmicks. It cited a research report that found New York was experiencing its sharpest drop in tax revenues in 11 years. The story said that neither Pataki nor his Democratic challenger "has put forth a credible plan to deal with a state deficit" that fiscal monitors predicted could be as large as $10 billion.

The story said, "The worst of those scenarios would mean that Albany could no longer afford the cost of one-tenth of everything it routinely does, from providing health care to the poor to underwriting public schools and colleges."

And the story noted that Pataki had responded to a less severe deficit in 1995 with cuts to various education and health care programs. Short of headlining the article "Repent Now, for the End Is Near," I'm not sure what more "hard analysis" we were supposed to do.

Jordan Rau
Albany Bureau Chief, Newsday

Sydney H. Schanberg replies: I'm a big fan (and an alumnus) ofNewsday, whose news coverage across the board doesn't get half the notice or credit it deserves. Thanks to my researcher, Jennifer Snow, I did pore over all the Pataki campaign coverage. Some individual stories, like the September 29 piece cited byNewsday's Jordan Rau, were exemplary. But, collectively, the coverage did not isolate Pataki's dominant overspending role in creating this crisis, then his denying the very existence of a crisis and thereby failing to take early corrective steps that would have softened the tax burden now faced by the public.

Perhaps "hard analysis" wasn't the best choice of words to describe what was missing from the campaign coverage. Pataki should have been singled out relentlessly as an absentee governor who was hiding from his profligacy solely to further his political career. McCall ran an embarrassingly weak campaign—and he never called for a freeze on state hiring or any other remedial step—but he was not an equal partner in creating the fiscal mess.

It's not just voters who have lowered their expectations of elected officials. The press has, too. Jordan Rau has nothing to apologize for in his individual reporting. And he didn't write the headline on the story he cited. But look at that headline: "In Governor Race, Deficit of Solutions." Tell me that's an alarm bell about a crisis. I'd say it was more akin to a Muzak tape sponsored by Sominex.


DYLAN: THE NEW DYLAN

Re Tom Smucker's "Sincerest Flattery: Wear Your Lucinda Like Heaven" [April 23-29]:

I enjoyed reading Smucker's story, in which he compares Kathleen Edwards to Lucinda Williams and hails them both as modern, long-awaited female Bob Dylans. But I don't agree. Kathleen's powerful, raw, Canadian-accented voice (and her band) sounds more like fellow folk-rocking Canadian Neil Young ("One More Song the Radio Won't Like" is perhaps the best example). And Lucinda's warbly twang is more Hank Williams meets Austin refried folk-rock in spirit and tone. For the moment, it seems the only modern Dylan we have is another guy: Beck (oh yes, and Bob Dylan himself).

R. Scott Hanson
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


CHO NUFF

It was wonderful to read Hua Hsu's "Orienting the East" [April 16-22]. I'm a Chinese person living in Japan (after living in New York for a year). In spite of the fact that I've communicated with many people in the world rather harmoniously, I've always thought that people are different. So, I really had sympathy for the view mentioned in the article.

Thank you for letting me have the chance to read such a great article.

Ichiyo Cho
Hiroshima, Japan


NOT TONIGHT, DEAR

Re Richard Goldstein's "War Horny" [April 16-22]:

Goldstein hits the nail on the head! It is all so true it had me laughing while feeling disgusted all the while I read it.

I know some Republican males who seem absolutely reinvigorated by the war. My Democratic friends try to hide it but some of this false "manhood" sneaks through.

Maybe poor Laura had a nice evening during the first preemptive strike!

Sylvia Barksdale
Lynnfield, Massachusetts


PARIAH SCARY

Re "War Horny":

Goldstein could go further with his logic, and look at why there are so many liberal hawks these days—I suppose many liberals are tired of being disenfranchised from power.

It's the opposite of what is happening here in Spain (but I feel for better reasons). In other words, nobody has the balls to support the war here: It would make you an automatic pariah. Nobody believes in the altruism of the Bush administration.

William Mara
Madrid, Spain


REMEMBERING NINA SIMONE

Re "Nina Simone, 1933-2003" [April 30-May 6]:

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